Before we started our home study, I had visions of our adoption practitioner checking our closets and looking under the bed, searching for piles of laundry or giant dustbunnies–clues we would be poor parents. I agonized about a super-awkward, super-envasive series of visits in which we tried our best to maintain the ruse that we are Normal and Clean.
Fortunately, it turned out to be not scary and mostly delightful. It helps that our adoption practitioner is professional, kind and has a sense of humour. However, in talking with other prospective adoptive or foster parents, the home study looms large.
So, as a Home Study Veteran (ha!), I’d like to share my tips and tricks for surviving and enjoying your home study.
1. Research. I asked around to see if anyone could recommend an adoption practitioner. If possible, a referral is the best way to go. Your adoption practitioner is going to be with you throughout your adoption journey, so it’s important you feel comfortable with them. I did initial phone interviews with several before selecting the one with whom I felt most comfortable. Be sure to ask about previous experience with your type of adoption/foster care, rates, availability, etc.
2. Clean. Like a normal person. For Visit #1 I scrubbed the baseboards and reorganized all closets and cabinets. This may be reasonable if you’re a cleaning superstar, but it is wholly unnecessary. My new standard for home study visits is Over Night Guest Ready: a clean bathroom, empty kitchen sink, swept floors and tidy living areas. Bam. Give yourself some time for something more enjoyable…like food!
3. Bake! I loved baking for each visit because it made the house smell yummy and feel homey, and was a welcome treat and ice-breaker. I highly recommend the Strawberry Rhubarb Coconut Crisp or my Mom’s lemon squares.
4. Prepare. Have on hand any relevant paperwork or documents, as well as a notepad, pens and your cheque book. Nothing says I’m Ready to Parent like having to rummage through desk drawers to find pens with ink actually in them. Ahem.
5. Relax. Take a deep breath and remember that the goal of the home study is to understand the foster/adoption process and to assess if it is a good fit for your family. Being open and honest will help you and your adoption practitioner discern what is best for your family and any potential children.
No matter how the process varies from province to province (or state to state), it’s an important step in your journey. Your adoption practitioner is ultimately your ally–they will recommend you to the appropriate government bodies, and they will be the one to present you with the long-awaited referral.
As we closed the door after our first meeting, I realized that the home study can be the beginning of a long and pleasant relationship. These days, I’ve relaxed quite a bit regarding my pre-home study-cleaning-frenzy. Just don’t open the closet doors…